Welcome, welcome, welcome all! We’re in 2019 and boy things are looking much sweeter from this side of the tracks.
I hope you spent your New Years Eve getting tiddly, lighting sparklers and then falling asleep on the couch at twenty minutes until midnight. I sure know I did. Yes, the world political stage is still in ruin. But I’m feeling a new optimism in the air thanks to the start of a new year…
One particular thing I’ve looked forward to about starting 2019 was setting some general goals around how I want to live and feel this year. I don’t go big in for New Years resolutions per se but it is nice to use this time of year as an opportunity to reflect on what is and what is not going well in ones life.
I took the chance to listen to a podcast from last year on The Emma Guns show, and then forced Matt to listen to it immediately after as we drove over the hills to the Wairarapa to our New Years eve low-key party spot in a remote valley with no cell phone reception or Wi-Fi. This inspired us to talk about what our resolutions were for 2019. Less rushing around is definitely up there for me (read: splitting myself and trying to be in 1000 places at once). I also am aiming to invest in my health-wealth and achieve financial security.
While finding these three broad resolutions, personal to me, I felt it was important to touch on some general themes on this blog which I’ve noticed seem to come up again and again from our general chit chat in my DMs on Instagram.
I think, reader, we’re all past the point where resolutions are ‘Go to the gym three times a week’ or ‘Lose three kilograms’. Yes, exterior appearance and health matter. But as I grow older I realise that more important is how they make you feel in your head: how good habits can support mental health. What is important to focus on are the everyday key-stone habits which form our lives - goals we can actually achieve if we approach life with an open mindset that the new year brings.
At various times, I’ve employed the 5 suggested habits below, and I must say the flow-on effect they have into other areas of your life is remarkable. You’ll have better relationships almost immediately, you’ll quickly drop weight without trying and notice improve energy across the board. So without further ado, here are my top 5 ways to actually have a better 2019.
1. Stop shoving so much into your life and say no to things
Dear reader, I hope that in some aspects of life, I am onto it - but I had to take a long hard look at myself over this one. Are you, like me, someone who puts their name down to do a million things, only to find you never have time to eat breakfast, do your life admin and always go to bed too late?
The only answer to this is to start to prioritise what is important to you. If it isn’t a hell yes, it should be a hell no. Saying no can be hard, but ultimately if you say yes to something you don’t want to, you’ll create bad energy around it which will kill your sense of enjoyment from that thing and just leave resentment. As humans, we tend to be unrealistic about what we can achieve in a particular time-frame, and add 50 things to a list. Chop your list down and factor a realistic amount of time to a task, then add an hour. This will give you a better sense of how to apportion your attention. Ideally, ONLY do three tasks a day. This is the magic number - trust me!
Next, accept that you need to stop distracting yourself with whatever digital device or thought pops into your hand/brain and walk-away-from-the-social-media. Social media, emails and even our own family WhatsApp can be a big distraction when there are things which actually need to get done. Carve out time in your week to get the things done which you know will make life easier in the long run. Which leads me to…
2. Plan effectively for a productive week
Know thyself and how planning works best for you. If you always buy a new diary for each year, but have given it up by April, perhaps normal planners aren’t for you. Personally, I just use a normal lined diary and make lists. Know you work best in the morning? Don’t schedule your important meetings at the time you know you’ll achieve your best work. Think you might have a performance review in the afternoon next week? Don’t organise coffee catch ups or a million tasks to do. I use my iCal for all my meeting planning, like events, deadlines, shoots and work meetings. I then have a separate notebook for my work as a policy advisor, where I collate my tasks into ‘Have to do’ and ‘Nice to do’ if there are things which aren’t as urgent. I cross these out in red pen as I go, trying to keep lists weekly. For my blog, I write down my to-do list in my iPhone reminder list. If I have an idea at work through the day, and it relates to my blog, not work, I write it on a post-it note and stick it to my phone in my work draw so I don’t get onto my email/phone and start to be distracted, only to find myself scrolling twenty minutes later (this is a recent development). Everything is added to my iCal, as the one source of truth, for the big things on with my blog and my work. These sit together so I always know when I have something on.
3. Cook at home on Sundays
Shake up your shopping…and start cooking. The Guardian published an article recently about the power of eating at home and cooking to improve your diet across the board. They advise to flag the diet and instead focus on cooking from scratch at home. While you might find yourself (like me) reluctant to cook after you come home from work after a long day, you’ll find that if you have batch cooked a few meals on Sunday, you’re in a better place to face the week. Curries, casseroles, soups and grains are your friend. You’ll save money (especially if you focus on dishes which only need cheaper cuts of meat, like Casserole), save time and feel much less stressed. You’ll also probably loose weight without trying because along with your cook up will be the requirement to use good, solid ingredients, like vegetables, spices, herbs and grains. It’s also a fun excuse to actually use those cookbooks that you bought 5 years ago. Set some time aside, sit on the couch, grab your post-it notes, make a list of ingredients you’ll need and then plan a shop at the Sunday markets and Pak n Save. Trust me - I’m already a convert.
As my friend Hana says, “A Sunday well spent, brings a week of content!”
4. Give booze a break
Last year I wrote a post about my relationship with alcohol. That post was one of my most read of 2018. Like many Kiwis, Matt and I both struggle with finding the right balance with alcohol in our lives. On the one hand, we’re obsessed with wine and wine tasting. On the other, we often wish we’d stopped drinking and can argue when boozed. It isn’t easy. For some, going sober long term is the only way. For us, we are going to do six months no drinking for 2019 because Matt has some exams in June he needs to study for. I can’t tell you how to live your life, nor can I know what you’ve been through with alcohol. However, I can say that I think giving alcohol a break for a few weeks each year is a really good thing to do. It helps you gain perspective on your drinking, plus also establishes who is in control (you vs booze). So if you feel like having a detox in 2019, make not-drinking your cornerstone.
5. Buy less, use less
2019 seems to have a vibe of reducing, reusing and recycling to it. As I talked about last year, fashion is the second most polluting industry on the planet and the way we’re buying clothes has to change. I also realised while backpacking in Europe last year that I simply don’t need the number of clothes I own (trust me, my wardrobe has been huuuge). As such, I decided to sell about half my wardrobe at Recycle Boutique. And it truly felt great.
The simple fact is, most of us have so many clothes that we can’t even see everything we own. While I’m not saying you should get rid of it all, I think it’s worth paying attention to the truth of whether you need something, or whether you are looking for ‘the high’ that purchasing something brings. Where else can you get a sense of pleasure, without swiping your card?
So that’s reducing covered - but what about reusing? Well, I know I’d rather buy quality and have it last a really long time. So I’m grateful my mother bought her beautiful Burleigh china years ago which is now in my house. Every time I use it I feel a sense of closeness about my own life, knowing who I am, and how lucky I am to have inherited these beautiful objects. I really don’t think I’ll ever need to buy my own set, because I just love the one which is already in our family so much. Similarly, I like reusing furniture that my parents have, finding old journals I’ve only half finished and finishing them, or re-purposing old boxes, containers and trays. Reusing can be more satisfying than buying new when you get that kick from not wasting what’s already pretty good and needs to be used up/given a new lease on life.
As for recycling? In the kitchen, we are becoming more aware about how plastic isn’t awesome for mother earth. Glad wrap, straws and other single use plastics are not our friends. This movement has now gone corporate; New World and Countdown are eliminating plastic bags. However, charity starts at home and getting rid of plastic or if you can’t, recycling it, is a great start. Being mindful of the impact anything you buy has on the planet is a great place to start. Don’t expect miracles overnight, but maybe start taking little steps to improve your footprint on the earth.
So with that, let’s take a leap into 2019. Thank you for reading, following and generally giving a sh*t about what I put online. Here’s to a wonderful year for both you and me. Please email me and share your New Year goals - I love getting emails from you and it brightens my week. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clothes in my top photo all from www.goodasgold.com.